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BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY (Page 5)

Boone, Blowing Rock and Mast General Store

Milepost 292 exit
(heading North)
July 2-4, 2007

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Mileposts:
(heading north)

Page 1 (MPs 400s)
  
Smokemont Campground
  Waterrock Knob
  Mount Pisgah CG

Page 2 (MPs 390-340)
  Asheville, NC
     Asheville KOA East
     Biltmore Estate
     Chimney Rock
  Craggy Gardens
  Crabtree Meadows CG

Page 3 (MPs 316-304)
  Linville Falls CG
  Grandfather CG
  Grandfather Mountain

  Linn Cove Viaduct

Page 4 (MPs 297-294)
  Julian Price CG
  Moses Cone Park

Page 5 (MP 292 exit)
  Boone
  KOA Boone
  Village of Blowing Rock
  Blowing Rock Attraction
  Mast General Store

Page 6 (MPs 291-190)
  West Jefferson
  Church of the Frescoes
  RiverCampUSA
  Virginia Creeper Trail

Page 7 (MPs 217-176)
  Puckett Cabin
  Meadows of Dan CG
  Mabry Mill
  Mayberry Campground
  Mount Airy
  Pilot Mt. State Park

Page 8 (MPs 169-61)
  Rocky Knob CG
  Roanoke Mountain CG
  Virginia's Explore Park
  Peaks of Otter CG
  Otter Creek CG

Page 9 (MP 62)
  KOA Natural Bridge
  Jellystone Natural Bridge
  Natural Bridge

Page 10 (MPs 45-0)
  Chimney Rock
  20 Minute Cliff
  Humpback Rocks

  Shenandoah NP
(MP 0!)

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Below are places we saw along the way with links to separate pages, if applicable.
Mile-post Attraction
292 Boone
  When northbound, the roads to Boone and to Blowing Rock are at the same Parkway exit at Milepost 292.
To get to Boone, take Highway 221 and it's about 7.5 miles to downtown. I'd heard it's a worthy stopping point to explore Grandfather Mountain and Banner Elk, but we'd already been there. But I'd also heard good things about the KOA in Boone and also wanted to see nearby Blowing Rock and Mast General Store in Valle Crucis, so decided to make it a stop anyway. Also heard the Daniel Boone Restaurant had the best Country Ham Biscuits, but they're only open for breakfast on the weekends, so that part didn't work out. We ate at the Mountain House restaurant, but that really wasn't anything to write home about.

KOA Boone

123 Harmony Mountain Lane
Boone, NC 28607
(828) 264-7250

My house is in the background on site C1, next to my nice neighbors here in C3. Rod & Becky Schell from Sherrills Ford, NC say they return here often for the quiet and solitude, but also because of the friendly people and the fun activities.

 

This row, along with most others through Row J, is heavily treed. Even though the opposite side of my house was wide open, the direction the satellite needed to be in order for me to get Direcway TV pointed directly into the tree cover, so no go there.

But my neighbors in front in D1, Tom & Donna Wogan, were able to position to hit a hole in the trees and could get reception. I thought it was also funny that in talking with them, they pretty much echoed what the Schells said about what keeps them returning here. They said the staff is always so helpful and friendly and they love the clean, cool mountain air when they come here from their hot and humid Florida home.

We had a nice discussion about corporate run vs. family owned campgrounds and how obvious it is that this is truly a family affair going on here. Bob Harmon's family built this campground 34 years ago and their hospitality has apparently been well appreciated through the years. His wife, Joan, has worked here with him for 21 years and says she appreciates being self-employed, but her real enjoyment comes from meeting people from all over. She was a real joy to meet and has a genuine enthusiasm for making her guests happy.

 
This is Area K where sites are out in the open with the added perk of being able to see contented cows grazing in the upper field. Or take a walk to the pen and feed the goats.
 

This KOA is more removed from a major highway than any I've ever seen - but that's not a bad thing in my book. It's still only 5 miles from downtown Boone and even though the last mile up Ray Brown Road is a bit steep, it's doable with no real trouble and the reward of staying on the mountain makes up for that, too.

Only negative for me since I couldn't get satellite TV is having no cable TV (they're a bit too far removed for that at this time) and only one local channel came in with halfway decent reception. My Verizon cell phone worked fine and I was able to get online with my Verizon air card, but it kept disconnecting then reconnecting itself almost immediately - I don't know what that was about. They do have wi-fi that you can pick up if you're in the vicinity of the office.

292 The Village of Blowing Rock
  Take Highway 321 and in less than 2 miles you arrive at this quaint little village and a bit further, the attraction for which its named. When we passed through here, they were celebrating the 4th of July holiday and it was all decked out for the occasion. We enjoyed the tour of and around the town, but if you want to taste the worst Mexican food ever (in my humble opinion), eat at Tijuana Fats. Granted, my mom and I are prejudiced by the great Tex-Mex we're used to, but even though we were really hungry when we stopped here, we couldn't even finish it we thought it tasted so weird.
Blowing Rock (the attraction)
Like many natural things not easily understood, a legend is told to explain the Blowing Rock. You can read about the Chickasaw maiden and the Cherokee brave who are memorialized here. Apparently even today some believe this legend because the workers are often asked where the Indians are buried. In fact, the rocky walls of the gorge form a flume so that when the wind is gusty, hats and light objects thrown over come back up. Ripley's "Believe-It-Or-Not" touts it as "the only place in the world where snow falls upside down" because it sometimes looks that way under the right conditions.

 

Even without this phenomenon, the views are incredible from here. We also got a kick out of this little boy working so hard to climb this big rock.

292 Mast General Store - Valle Crucis
 
There are other ways you can get to Valle Crucis, but I just decided to visit it while I was staying in Boone, so am including it here.
 

There are now 6 Mast General Stores, but they all owe it to this original one in Valle Crucis opened in 1883. It really is a trip back in time to walk in to see the old timey post office and original counters where everything from "cradles to caskets" were sold and bartered for.

  Charles Kuralt traveled through and said "All general stores are satisfying to visit, but one of them, the Mast Store, is a destination."
 

I really did enjoy my visit here, and got a great pair of light hiking boots on sale, but what I really wished is that I could still fill my gas tank at a pump that can't even count more than 99.9 cents per gallon!

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